Austin Police Association Questions Travis County Prosecutors in Machete Attack Case

Austin is still experiencing machete attacks, and according to the Austin Police Association, these attacks are typically carried out by people with prior criminal records.

This week, a young person from Austin was subjected to a “random and violent attack” close to the Auditorium Shores Park. This is not the first instance of aggressive attacks utilizing machetes.

An explanation of the incident involving the “machete-wielding maniac” who attacked the teenage victim was provided by the Austin Police Association (APA) in a social media video. The victim was “permanently disfigured” before Austin Police Department (APD) officers were able to capture the offender, according to APA.

“Again, we ask for elected officials to stand up and take the necessary steps to support public safety, stop the seemingly never-ending attacks, and for prosecutors to do their job and prosecute these violent criminals,” APA President Michael Bullock said in the video.

Bullock responded, “Unfortunately, these types of incidents are all too frequent,” to the Texan’s message. Deadly weapons, such as guns, knives, and machetes, are alarmingly frequently utilized in crimes against Austinites.

Austin Police Association Questions Travis County Prosecutors in Machete Attack Case (1)
Co-founder of the local advocacy group Save Austin Now, which was instrumental in the restoration of Austin’s ban on public camping in 2021, Cleo Petricek, highlighted the issue in many headlines and appealed to Governor Greg Abbott for assistance.

“In Austin, machete attacks are frequent. They are also affordable, available to everyone for just $6.99 at nearby stores. “It is truly disheartening to observe that the lack of visible law enforcement (Park Patrol) is a result of the police staffing crisis brought on by the defunding of our police,” the writer penned.

In response to Petricek, Texas Representative Matt Schafer (R-Tyler), who has decided not to run for reelection in 2024, commented, “We need common sense machete control now!”

Read More: Austin Police Department Struggles with Staffing Shortfall, Causing Delays in Emergency Responses

Ashton Kaine Talley, 24, was detained and charged to this week’s attack, the APD announced in a press release on Wednesday. Talley is accused of one count of eluding arrest and two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

After the incident, Justin Graber, who was nearby and seen the victim’s wounds, told KXAN, “There was a lot of blood.”

“Lacerations to the lower body, behind the ear, and forearm”

Graber also described how, before the arrival of the ambulance, onlookers tried to assist the wounded by wrapping clothes and bandages to halt the bleeding.

Nathan Kurten, a different guy, claimed that the man with the machete had turned to pursue Kurten after attacking the first victim, but Kurten had managed to get away, forcing the assailant to retreat.

“I cried out, ‘I’m phoning 911.'” Give it up, you know,” Kurten told KXAN. At that moment, he paused, but he then began to pursue me.

In recent years, there have been several reports of suspects using machetes and other similar weapons to stab people in Austin. The victims of these attacks have included Taco Bell customers, University of Texas at Austin students, and hotel security officers.

Austin Police Association Questions Travis County Prosecutors in Machete Attack Case (2)

Bullock told The Texan, “Since the end of September, APD officers have made 14 arrests in downtown Austin alone for people who displayed a deadly weapon in a manner that caused alarm or threat to a bystander.”

Nine of those cases featured suspects with prior criminal histories, many of which included serious crimes. When a suspect in these crimes was prosecuted, the average sentence was 16 days or less in jail. They were released right away because they had frequently already served their term in jail while they awaited trial. Seven of the suspects in those fourteen arrests went on to perpetrate more crimes.

As a characteristic of his administration, Travis County District Attorney José Garza has advocated for less stringent bail and sentence guidelines. A citizen petition to remove Garza from office for “incompetency and official misconduct” was filed in December as part of an effort by some to criticize his activities.

“The sense of lawlessness fostered by Travis County Prosecutors’ attitude towards holding criminals accountable is seriously injuring and killing people in our city,” Bullock stated.

“Officers with the Austin Police Department persist in apprehending individuals who exhibit violent tendencies or vices; however, prosecutors disregard this effort as a means of appeasing lawbreakers rather than safeguarding the public.”

To supplement the understaffed Austin police force with state troopers, the APD and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) formed a cooperative collaboration last March. In the first quarter of 2023, 89 APD officers left the force.

In addition to the 150 positions that were removed as part of the 2020 budget cut and redirection, the department had 281 open positions as of March 2023. Austin lacked 500 officers, according to Thomas Villareal, the then-APA President, at the time.

However, the Public Safety Commission recommended that the city terminate the APD-DPS relationship in July following an allegation against DPS.

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